National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1970-1987: We wrestle with our democratic freedoms, arguing issues old and new

November 7, 1973
Congress reasserts its role with the War Powers Act

USS Yorktown

Ever since FDR, Americans have watched presidential war-making powers expand.

Truman and Johnson led us into the Korean and Vietnam wars without a congressional declaration of war. Nixon authorized the secret bombing of Cambodia.

The world has changed, say those who defend presidential power. In a nuclear age, events move quickly, and the Constitution makes only one person—the president—the Commander in Chief.

But Congress has had enough. The Constitution, they say, gives Congress the power to declare war for a reason.

Today, in an effort to rein in the president’s power to commit troops without its approval, Congress passed the War Powers Act—over Nixon’s veto.

Read about it in the New York times

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